National Geographic Daily News
A new species of leaf-nosed bat.
The new species' facial protuberances may enhance echolocation.

Photograph courtesy Vu Dinh Thong

Christine Dell'Amore

National Geographic News

Published February 24, 2012

A new species of bat whose face bristles with leaf-like protrusions has been discovered in Vietnam, a new study says.

When scientists first spotted Griffin's leaf-nosed bat in Chu Mom Ray National Park in 2008, the animal was almost mistaken for a known species, the great leaf-nosed bat, said Vu Dinh Thong, of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in Hanoi.

Still, Vu Dinh and his team, thinking there was a chance the bat might in fact be new to science, used nets to catch some of the docile animals.

"While captured, some similar body-sized bats, i.e. [the] great leaf-nosed bat, reacts very angrily," he said by email. "But Griffin's leaf-nosed bat seems quite gentle."

The team did, however, have to contend with some vexing creatures—the "unbelievably high" number of leeches that take over Chu Mom Ray during rainy season, he said.

"It seems the leeches tried their best to capture us while we were trapping bats," Vu Dinh said.

"Fortunately, we won."

(Also see "Pictures: Tube-Nosed Bat, More Rare Species Found.")

New Bat Still a Mystery

The team recorded the captured bats' sonar frequencies and took tissue samples from a few specimens.

The results revealed that the bat issues calls at a different frequency from the great leaf-nosed bat, which hinted that the newfound specimen is a new species. Genetic results confirmed the species—named Hipposideros griffini—is genetically distinct, according to the study, published recently in the Journal of Mammalogy.

So far, "absolutely little is known" about H. griffini, Vu Dinh said. Like all leaf-nosed bats, the newfound mammal has strange, leaf-like projections on its nose that may aid in echolocation—sending out sound waves and listening for echoes bouncing off objects, including prey.

(See "'Whispering' Bat Evolved to Trick Prey.")

The bat was also found in only two national parks, though further research may uncover more habitats for the creature, Vu Dinh said.

"This finding also suggested that Vietnam would be home to a highly diverse bat fauna, and that some species living within the country are not discovered."

0 comments

How to Feed Our Growing Planet

  • Feed the World

    Feed the World

    National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.

See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

The Innovators Project

  • Brave Sage of Timbuktu

    Brave Sage of Timbuktu

    Abdel Kader Haidara had made it his life's work to document Mali's illustrious past. When the jihadists came, he led the rescue operation to save 350,000 manuscripts.

See more innovators »

Phenomena

See more posts »

Latest News Video

See more videos »

See Us on Google Glass

Shop Our Space Collection

  • Be the First to Own <i>Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey</i>

    Be the First to Own Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

    The updated companion book to Carl Sagan's Cosmos, featuring a new forward by Neil deGrasse Tyson is now available. Proceeds support our mission programs, which protect species, habitats, and cultures.

Shop Now »